Super-athletic grandmother, 55, hopes to be NFL's oldest cheerleader as she prepares to audition for Dallas Cowboys squad
It is the nation's most famous cheerleading squad, reserved for the best-of-the-best in the world of prep doubles, pyramids and liberty stunts.
But the audition process is an open affair, and anyone is able to throw their hat into the ring, so to speak, when it comes to trying out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
One Texan grandmother has dared to dream – and has ten weeks in which to finesse a perfect routine capable of tipping the unlikely odds in her favour.
Not bad for 55! Sharon Simmons is auditioning for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleading squad and will be the oldest NFL cheerleader if successful
Sharon Simmons, who soon turns 56, believes she has what it takes to enter the professional squad. If successful at the early May trials, she will be the oldest cheerleader in the NFL and its ranks of bleached-blonde, long-haired, perma-tanned beauties.
The fitness competitor is perhaps as lithe as many women a third of her age, and in a warm-up competition she looks as in-shape, energetic and motivated as she needs to be.
In fact, she sees 'absolutely no difference' between herself and those 19-year-olds against whom she must compete for a coveted place in the team.
The Carrollton, Texas, resident told CBS 11 Local: 'On stage, I blend right in with women in their 20s, 30s and up.'
Super gran: The tenacious 55-year-old is lithe, fit and looks as good as many women a third of her age
The gran, who said she has an advantage in that she is used to performing on stage and has no problem with nerves, is not one to miss an new experience or opportunity.
Having designed a competition costume based on a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders outfit with its instantly-recognisable white and blue tassels, the idea took shape – not put off by being a full 13 years older than the current most senior cheerleader.
'I thought, that’s something I never tried.
Pulling moves: What she lacks in youth, she more than makes up in vigour and dedication, throwing herself into moves for a recent cheerleading competition
'I always wanted to try out. I got real close in my early 20s, but got busy raising my daughter. And I thought, why not now' she told the network.
She is in good hands, taking cheerleading lessons with local pom-pom flicking expert, Audrea Cowen.
The former Cowboys cheerleader is now a dance instructor and gives Ms Simmons the inside track on choreography and moves. While the hopeful's fitness is in no doubt, the dance pro suggested that there may be other areas for concern.
Cart-wheeling: The granny is training with an ex-Cowboys cheerleader for the early may trials, by which time she will be 56. The current oldest NFL cheerleader is 42
'The flexibility required to be a cheerleader is greater than what she needs for fitness competition,' she told CBS.
The network reports the Ms Simmons
struggles to remember the routines, with their jumps, thrusts, kicks,
cart-wheels and, of course, ubiquitous rictus grins.
Unperturbed, the gregarious granny said she is relishing the challenge: 'I love life. I’m having a blast. I’m having a ball.'
The competition: A charging phalanx of Cowboys cheerleaders shows the world how it's done in their signature Texan-inspired outfits
The public are behind her, too.
Readers at the network's site are
enthusiastic, many of them applauding her courage and tenacity – and
dismissing the naysayer commentators among the pack.
One writes: 'Wow! What an inspiration you are. You should be so proud that you are going for such an amazing goal. You're never to old to follow your dreams. Good Luck!'
Another adds: 'I think she is a great inspiration to many women. The fitness and body aspect is enough for me. I am only in my 40′s and would love to look like her and have the skills and energy to accomplish such a task.'
Body beautiful: Ms Simmons will be around three times of the age of most other competitors hoping to enter the famous squad